Saturday, October 19, 2013

“Focus on a few things . . .”

“And get them done.” That’s not from a Westerner. “[T]he Indonesian co-chair of Pacific Economic Cooperation Council [PECC], Jusuf Wanandi, insists that APEC is missing on the priorities that will lead it to be less diffuse, ‘focus on a few things and get them done.’ Thus, Indonesia is presenting a little over 20 deliverables for approval by member economies in the meetings of 2013. Hard infrastructure financing is one of the ‘connectivity’ agenda -- and even before the Leaders’ Meeting, China announced an Asian Infrastructure Investment Fund of $10 billion to be a vital symbolic drop in the bucket of the $8 trillion infrastructure funding gap in the region.” [Business World, 7th Oct 2013]
Europeans saw a similar focus on infrastructure as the EU pursued integration, and Spain and Portugal, for example, benefited from it. And it happened again as Eastern Europeans gained accession into the EU. And in the case of APEC, as it moves forward, we Pinoys have our place in the table: In November 1995, the APEC Business Advisory Council was established as a permanent body composed of business leaders from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies that will serve as an independent voice of business within the APEC process. ABAC’s main task is to review the progress of APEC’s work on trade and investment liberalization. The Philippines’ representatives to ABAC—Doris Magsaysay Ho, Tony Tan Caktiong, and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala—are pursuing APEC issues that have an impact on the Philippine economy. MBC serves as the secretariat of ABAC Philippines.” [Makati Business Club website] And looking up the Board of Trustees of the MBC, the above-named Philippine representatives to ABAC are in fact trustees. In a small country like PHL, that is probably to be expected.
“The theme chosen for the Indonesia APEC meetings is connectivity and inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific, far from the original Bogor goals of a free and open trade and investment zone set 19 years ago . . . [T]he concern of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members is that the emphasis on the TILF (trade and investment liberalization) issues has resulted in greater income inequality in their region.”
The question to ask is: What can PHL bring to the table at ABAC about inclusive growth given that we have the worst gap between rich and poor in the region? And since Ayala is a pillar in Philippine industry, what do they say in their website? “Ayala - Pioneering the Future. Ayala Corporation is one of the oldest and most respected business groups in the Philippines with a diversified business portfolio that includes real estate development, banking and financial services, telecommunications, water distribution infrastructure, electronics manufacturing services, automotive dealership, overseas real estate investments, business process outsourcing, renewable energy and power . . . Founded in 1834, Ayala has built a pioneering legacy in various industries and to this day maintains leadership in key sectors of the Philippine economy.”
Recall the line: “Ayala - Pioneering the Future.” There aren’t many companies from the 1800’s that are still around? And Google answered the question. A US firm was founded (following a merger) in 1892: “. . . Twenty thousand patents this decade, and counting…Making GE an “industrial company first” and pushing our competitive advantage in technology — they’re key themes at GE in 2010 and ones that take center stage in a new letter to shareholders in this year’s Annual Report. “In 2010, we will spend about 5 percent of our industrial revenue on R&D,” writes GE’s Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt in the note. “We have filed 20,000 patents this decade. We have nearly 40,000 engineers and scientists around the world. We have developed more than 150 core technologies that create leadership across our company. We share technologies and innovation across multiple platforms to create technological scale. We benchmark each of these against our competition and lead in many . . . As Jeff notes in the letter, “Time magazine called this era ‘The Decade From Hell,’ and ‘when you are going through hell,’ Winston Churchill advised, ‘keep going.’” But in the midst of “one of the worst global economic downturns in history,” the focus on technology R&D continues to be critical to industrial growth.”
Of course we don’t expect our enterprises to be like GE . . . Yet 3 of our neighbors – Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand – dominate regional trade to the extent of 70% . . . because we’ve neglected infrastructure development? And without it we can’t create a vibrant industrial base, composed of a few select strategic and competitive industries like the 7 winners teed up by the JFC? And we won’t get anywhere near that if we can’t get our act together? Focus on a few things . . . And get them done . . . Is that being un-Filipino or un-Asian? How come an Indonesian could be insistent? Have they simply learned?

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